Recall Supporters Are Wisconsinites, Too   14 comments

Seriously.  Does this lady look threatening to you ?

Seriously. Does this lady look threatening to you ?

post by nathan k

Wisconsin is becoming more and more divided. Every day we hear more stories of recall supporters being harassed, both verbally and physically, by Walker supporters. To try to gain some understanding, I sometimes try to imagine the thoughts and rationale of these Walker supporters, some of whom are lashing out in a very rude, angry and almost reflexive, instinctual, thoughtless fashion. To me, it seems that they must be very fearful people deep down inside, to display such anger openly and outwardly. What is it that they believe about those who are working to recall Walker and the Republican state senators ? Why should Walker supporters be afraid of recall supporters, or feel the need to be violent toward them ?

Internet posts and comments by Walker supporters I’ve read, some filled with seething vitriol and hate-filled disdain, seem to indicate they think recall supporters are godless heathens hell-bent on destroying Wisconsin…that because they do not support Walker and the Republican legislators, they must not want Wisconsin and its citizens to be prosperous. Walker supporters, I implore you — take a good look at the people on the street corner collecting recall signatures. They are young, old, wives, husbands, single, fathers, mothers, employees, retirees, veterans…people of all stripes, from all backgrounds, from all political persuasions. They are not monsters. They are Wisconsin citizens, and they are your neighbors. No one is paying them to do this. They are doing what the Constitution of Wisconsin and the law allows them to do, and they are doing what they believe in their heart of hearts is the right thing to do. Do you really believe that they want Wisconsin to crash and burn ? That they want chaos, anarchy and misery to rule ? Recall supporters are Wisconsinites, too…they love living here, and all that this beautiful state has to offer…their kids go to school here…they want their communities and their state to be healthy, strong and prosperous now and into the future…they believe in a fair, strong and just government to protect citizens and resources from those who would seek to take advantage of them… and they are doing what they are lawfully within their rights to do and what they believe is best in order to ensure that happens.

Consider the above statement and take a look again at what recall supporters stand for, at the core. Are we all really so very different ? We are all human just the same. Even if we do not agree on the whys and hows, violent behavior against someone you do not happen to agree with is uncalled for, unjustified and inexcusable. And take another look — contrary to what some Walker supporters might believe, recall supporters are going by the letter of the law in collecting the required signatures in order to make damn sure that they will not be accused of malfeasance, because they do not want to fail in their mission. It is Walker supporters who are telling each other to sign multiple and false names on recall petitions in order to hurt and discredit the recall; that is, when not scribbling on, tearing up or stealing the petition forms (a felony, by the way).

Walker supporters seem to think that recall supporters should just wait for the next election in order to try to make a change. However, if the current office holders who were sworn to serve ALL Wisconsin citizens upon taking the oath of office actually did so, there would not be a problem. No matter what party or group or class citizens belong to, the governor, the senators and the representatives must listen to the people they have sworn to serve. And Walker and Company are…not…listening. In fact, they have made a concerted effort to close off the very ability to speak up, to dissent. THIS is why there is an effort to recall them…not because the minority Democrats demand it for having lost the last election, not because Unions demand it, not because Obama demands it, not because shadowy out-of-state Communist / Marxist / Anarchist cabals demand it — it is because the citizens of Wisconsin demand fairness and cooperation, they demand to be heard, they demand transparency and accountability, as has been the Wisconsin way for over a hundred years. And when they receive none of these things, instead receiving the opposite, along with a callous, dismissive, and uncaring attitude from elected leaders trying to suppress dissenting voices, there is no other recourse but to recall and remove them before more damage is done. As recall supporters see it, at stake is not only the system of government that serves and protects us, and its integrity, but our reputation as a model to other states on how government should work…and indeed, our very way of life.

To recap the list of offenses :
The majority party — although elected by only slightly more than half of the votes cast in an election where less than half of the state’s population turned out to cast ballots, thus putting actual measured support at somewhere less than ¼ of the state — suddenly feels as though they have a mandate from on high to to exclude all outside input and legislate in any way they see fit, laws and consequences be damned. Legislative members of minority party, even though they were duly elected as well, were not allowed to be informed of, see or give input on legislative bills and proposals. Meetings were scheduled for odd hours, even the middle of the night, without the appropriate public notice required by law, sometimes without even notifying the minority party. Hurry-up votes were quickly called for and rammed through without allowing dissent or amendments by the minority party. Public hearings were scheduled for rooms too small to accommodate enough people, or held far from the communities the proposed legislation would affect, and again often on notice short of the requirements by open meetings laws. When hearings began to be filled with citizens asking well-thought out questions and opposing these actions, the meetings would be abruptly ended, no more questions taken.

New rules and laws were enacted in order to protect and consolidate power and to limit dissent. Dozens of government posts that were once filled by individuals who had earned it through hard work and experience are now instead filled by appointment — and cronyism and corruption in these appointments are unfortunately now more and more commonplace. State agencies which were once accountable to citizens or a bi- or non-partisan board now report only to the governor. Even the legislature has ceded some of their power to the governor at his request.

Corporate giveaways were handed out to campaign contributors, and with revenues now drained as a result, a ‘budget crisis’ declared. Education — our foundation for prosperous communities and a prosperous state, and the cornerstone of good jobs — was decimated with cuts totalling nearly a billion dollars. Services to those most in need in this depressed economy (incidentally, a depression not of their making), including children, the poor, the elderly, veterans, and the disabled, were cut severely. Hard-working state employees — our neighbors, people who work to serve their communities — were made out to be a root of the problem, and the enemy.

The spectre of ‘voter fraud’ was raised, even though incidents of punishable fraud in Wisconsin are less numerous than those of UFO sightings here, and the most restrictive Voter ID in the nation was passed, putting many of those less fortunate souls without an up-to-date ID in a catch-22 — no ID without a birth certificate, but no birth certificate without an ID, reduced services means your closest DMV could be many miles away, and oh — there’s a fee for that. A highly gerrymandered redistricting of the state was done in secret, by private lawyers, on the taxpayers’ dime. Even though Tea-Party Republican legislators were elected on the promise of jobs, the legislation coming out has been highly partisan and not at all focused on jobs — things like concealed carry, earlier hours for alcohol sales, and restrictions on sex-ed. And now, they finally claim they are working on jobs — by working with a mining company in private to roll back environmental oversight and protections that were enacted over decades by members of both parties to keep our natural resources, our land and water, safe, clean and beautiful. All of this flies in the face of what a once-proud Wisconsin was built on and known for — respect, cooperation, transparency, and a government that serves all, no matter their station in life, and not just the few, the moneyed and the privileged.

The frustration over these things quickly caused the streets in front of local courthouses and other buildings statewide to spill over with protesters from all backgrounds and affiliations. Badgers that self-identify as Democrats, Republicans, Independents, or none of the above all came into the streets around the Capitol and into the Capitol building itself, and they all agreed — this is not how Wisconsin should be run. They said that even though we may disagree, we must try to respect one another, to work with one another, to listen to one another so that we can come to mutually beneficial agreements; that we must not lay the blame at the feet of those not responsible and we must not lay the cuts on those least fortunate and least able to bear them. When the rapidly swelling protesters, made up of Wisconsinites from near and far and now numbering in the hundreds of thousands despite the cold and snow, demanded that legislators and the governor return to respectful, cooperative and transparent ways of acting and governing, the people’s Capitol building was instead shut.

The capitol is open now, but with restrictions — you can now carry a gun in the Capitol, but you cannot carry a camera or a sign. You cannot gather inside in groups larger than 4 people without a permit. This is not the Wisconsin that we grew up in, and know and love…this is not the Wisconsin that Republican Progressive ‘Fighting Bob’ La Follette helped build into a beacon of what a state government should be…this is no longer the Wisconsin where home-grown legislators, from both rural towns and big cities, from both sides of the aisle, worked cooperatively and respectfully with one another and for their constituents for decades to provide equal footing for all. This is instead totalitarianism. And this is why we must recall and remove those who have no respect for fairness and cooperation, for one another, for the institution they are a part of and the citizens they have sworn to serve, for our natural landscape, for our traditions, and for our system of government, and it is why we must retake our government by replacing them with representatives that do. Only then will we be able to overcome the bitter partisanship and the ugly divide that those in power have created and nurtured, so that we can begin to heal, begin to rebuild and be prosperous, strong, healthy, safe and UNITED once again.

nathan k is a lifelong resident of the Wausau, WI area, who loves music, tinkering, and the outdoors. He hopes to help return control of Wisconsin’s government to the people, where it rightfully belongs.


14 responses to “Recall Supporters Are Wisconsinites, Too

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  1. Of all that I’ve read on the recall, this piece is by far the best and clearest statement as to the “whys and wherefores” of the whole situation. This is Wisconsin’s Declaration of Independence.

  2. take your first couple of paragraphs and swap ‘recall supporters’ and ‘walker supporters’ and you will have a decent start at the perspective of the other side. Yes, I am on that othr side, and I respect your choice to not agree with me as I hope my choice to not agree with you is respected. I have seen as much anger, vitriol and rude, thoughtless behavior directed in the direction of my beliefs as you say has been directed in the direction of your beliefs.
    So yo know what, the walker supporters are also wisconsin citizens who love this state just as much as you do – all of the attributes applied in your essay here to the recall folks apply to the walker folks – the only thing is that we believe in going about things in a different way than you do. That doesn’t make us ‘wrong’, it makes us different.
    At the end of the day, we all live and work in this great state and a little less anger and a little more understanding would go a long way from both sides. The current administration WAS elected by a majority vote, however slight – and your theory that only half of eligible voters actually voted and just over half voted for Walker equaling only a 1/4 of the actual population is number skewing at it’s finest – out of the half that did not vote, do you really think they all would have voted your way and the only 25% of the population who agreed with Walker actually had a 100% turnout?
    The reality is, this recall election will spend countless dollars and time and energy that could be directed to a more worthy cause – and if you think every action taken by the Walker administration will be thrown out if the recall is successful and things will go back to the way they were in regards to bargaining rghts and state employee contributions – sit down and think it out again…

    • Chris,

      Thanks for reading, and for your thought-out response. I agree that we need more understanding on all sides…but shutting one side out completely doesn’t work toward that end at all, and that’s what we’re seeing from Walker and his crew in the Legislature.

      A good many of us have taken a look from the other side and tried to see what those on the right might see. There is more than one reason we’re called ‘Middle Wisconsin’…one of the reasons is that we see and understand the need for a middle ground and compromise in politics. Not saying that everyone needs to come from there or camp there, just that we have to try to meet there. As I mentioned in the essay, not long ago people from the right and left — both in our communities and in our legislature — sat down with one another, treated the other with respect, and took a hard look at what the other had to say…but since this latest crop of tea-party Republicans has taken office, it seems those times have unfortunately passed. Look at my list of complaints — they center around the fact that the WI Repubs absolutely refuse to hear discussion or amendments or arguments of any kind, holding votes in the middle of the night, closed meetings, etc. Even the outpouring of hundreds of thousands has not bent Walker’s ear — he is forcing an extreme and partisan agenda that is causing a great many people to speak up, and yet he refuses to meet in the middle or even listen. That is at the core of the complaint.

      As of right now, the recall isn’t costing you and I anything — all signatures are being collected on a volunteer basis. Maybe you could count the extra police time dedicated to investigating all these incidents of harassment by extremists on the right. Besides, Walker will be able to pay for the challenge of the signatures with all the unlimited private money he’s raising while travelling out of state…

      You might say that the other side did things like this before…but never before have we seen these tactics elevated to this extreme level — that’s why you’re seeing such a reaction. And as our parents told us — two wrongs don’t make a right, that’s not an excuse. It wasn’t right before and it’s not right now. And we’re fighting it now. I and many others honestly wouldn’t want these tactics used on others if the shoe was on the other foot. The money needs to come out of politics, and then the corruption will wither…then we can sit down across the table once again, and work for the common good once again. But we have to have leaders willing to be respectful, listen and compromise first. By all measures, that doesn’t include Walker and company.

      – nk

  3. Thought about holding my tongue after being forwarded your blog, which intially upon reading seemed well thought out……but after further review:

    Claiming “This is instead totalitarianism.” is outlandish and stupid. Just as Stupid as the idiots who yell, harm or berate those collecting recall signatures.

    Every elected official will come up for re-election and they better damn well serve the best interests of Wisconsin and those who voted for them or they won’t get re-elected.

    Those currently elected haven’t changed the foundation of Wisconsin to any large degree, rather they have aligned our state with near 2 dozen other states with the ruling passed in regards to Collective Bargaining.

    As for the Recall efforts, I believe they are in place because their supporters have been force fed misinformation from the Unions in this State for the past 5 decades and now believe they cannot survive on their own merits, but rather need a big brother Union to assist them.

    I care deeply for Wisconsin, and these “Instant Polictics” are of great detriment to the longterm health of our state. The money being spent on this recall would be beter served in dozens of other areas.

    I do not claim to have all the answers, but I believe that this state has been partially overrun by Unions and their increased costs bear a portion of the blame for the major Manufacturing Jobs (100k+ maybe) that have been lost in this great state.

    In addition to that, people like Kathleen Barca, who makes 100k+ as a Kenosha School District Admin, have been cashing in fat checks for years on the backs of the entry level hard working teachers who make 30k or less. It is my hope that the new policies put in place this year, will allow for School Disctrictcs to better manage themselves in the long term.

    That’s the main reason I think Scott Walker deserves the right to serve a 4yr term before he is “judged”.

    On Wisconsin.

    • Macks —

      totalitarianism (noun)
      A system of government in which the people have virtually no authority and the state wields absolute control; for example, a dictatorship.

      I did think this out before I wrote it. How else to describe a system where the average guy is shut out, where ‘leaders’ drive headlong and unheeding with a highly partisan agenda against all opponents, allowing no chance for debate or dissent ? That is why we are upset. And in reality, you have no more voice than I do, even though people that claim to be on ‘your side’ are currently in power…you and I cannot afford a lobbyist, you and I cannot buy a team of lawyers to write legislation and do your bidding in a legal arena. The system is stacked against both of us. We’re fighting to change that. We plan to hold the next round of leaders accountable also. We’re fully awake and we’re not going to be lulled into complacency or ignored or bullied, by anyone on the right or left.

      I’m not in a union nor in contact with one, so it’s not about Unions or collective bargaining for me, nor is it for many, many others. As I mentioned to Chris, please read again — at issue is Walker’s absolute refusal to compromise or even listen, instead ignoring all disagreement and working hard to close off all avenues of dissent. The system wasn’t perfect before, but by all accounts from statements from leaders on the left and right, people from both sides worked together in mutual respect for the common good. We’re not seeing that from Walker and the Tea Party right now, and that’s why so many people are angry.

      Unions are a tool, and like any tool they can be used to build or they can be misused…but overall they work to try to represent those that pay dues to them. Would you ban hammers if someone killed someone else with a hammer ? On the other hand, we are seeing these businesses mismanaged by CEOs and Directors with no real connection to the companies whose boards they sit on or oversee…and when this mismanagement results in layoffs for those at the bottom and a huge retirement package for those at the top, can you really say it’s the fault of the little guy whose just trying to survive ? As long as politicians can be bought, that means that money is power, and you and I are on the outside looking in.

      No one is saying that it’s ok for government and schools to be mismanaged — we all want our officials and schools to use our tax money effectively and wisely. But giving millions in taxpayers’ money away as corporate handouts and then cutting government services to levels at which they cannot even be effective is not the answer. And we’re not going to wait for 3 more years for Walker and Company to figure that out — they’ve very much demonstrated that they have no interest in what anyone other than their wealthy sponsors have to say.

      • System of Government in which the people have no authority? Didn’t we just elect Scott Walker? Isn’t there going to be another election the end of 2014?? That is not totalitarianism, that is democracy. People are elected, they vote on issues and pass legislations. After a period of time they are up for re-election. None of that has changed. People need to calm down.

        Read up on your history….. Mussolini, Stalin, Kim Jon IL and Hilter ruled via Totalitarianism. It is ill-citied and foolish in my opinion, to make reference of such dictators with any elected official at any level in the USA, Scott Walker included.

        • Read up on history yourself — dictators often have a ‘voting system’ which is nothing more than a sham. And ours is not much better — when candidates can reap unlimited dollars from those with the deepest pockets and then turn their back on the electorate and serve the campaign sponsors instead, that’s not much of a ‘democracy’ at all.

          …But you know what else is democracy ? The right of recall, which was written into Wisconsin’s constitution by its wise and far-sighted authors. It’s coming whether you like it or not…you can try to argue with us here, which will get you nowhere since we aren’t extreme fringe right-wingers here, or you can go to a pro-Walker site and talk with people like yourself who all think he’s great. Maybe you should go do that.

          Good day to you.

  4. Does the GOP of Wisconsin represent the people? Ask them to champion some policy at odds with the Koch/WMC agenda and see if they will even give you an audience.

    We’ve lost control of our own state government. Corporations now run Wisconsin. That’s why people are in the streets with recall petitions. They want control of their own destiny.

    • In response to the claim- “Corporations now run Wisconsin.”

      Which corporations exactly? Harley-Davidson maybe? Which over the past 10-20 years have fled from Wisconsin, NO finished Motorcycles come off the line in Wisconsin. There is a reason they moved everything to York, PA and Kansas City, MO. Harley has recently moved it’s entire Parts and Accessories operations from Franklin, WI to other Wharehouses in the US.

      Mercury Marine perhaps? Whom withouth an absolute last second caving by its Union would have left Wisconsin the dust.?

      Maybe the Michigan company GM? Oh wait, they pulled the plug fast as they could in Janesville.

      The list could go on and on. 1 by 1, major Industrial and CPG companies are moving production and wharehouse operations to other parts of the World, but also to other parts of the USA. Places like Olive Branch, Mississippi, Lousiville, KY and Talladega, AL.

      I consider this exodus as one of the great travesties of the past 10-20 years for Wisconsin. The Doyle administration seemed oblivious and ambiguious to it all.

      I don’t think Scott Walker is the Saviour of WI, (he’s no Tim Tebow) but think it would be in the State of Wisconsin’s best long term interest to let his policies run their course for 3 years.

      Then we can access and re-elect.

  5. Nathan,

    It’s pretty clear to me that we’re all afraid. Those who are the most afraid are often those who already have the most.

    The state workers who have security are afraid of losing their security and the system they’ve constructed. Those who know they’ll never have the security of a state job are afraid there won’t be any opportunities left. If you want to see real insecurity take a trip through Brookfield, then take a trip to the north side of Milwaukee. Brookfield has a lot to lose. Those on the north side – not so much. That’s why you’ll see those in Brookfield screaming the loudest and electing people like Sensenbrenner.

    Small business owners, who have never been fairly represented, are afraid they’re going to close their doors like their neighboring businesses have. They feel their only hope comes from the right even though neither the left or right cares about genuinely small business.

    The large corporate lobbying campaign – not a local campaign, but a national campaign, has managed to instill an unreasonable level of fear at a time when there are genuine problems in Wisconsin that would be best served by acting, not on fear, but sound principles. However, that would not serve the interests of Walker or large corporations, who have no interest in what Wisconsin wants or needs but is looking to push a larger, national political agenda.

    If you watch Walker, you will see that he has no qualms about ignoring and angering the left, regardless of the numbers or the issue. That’s irritating to me because it’s not good governing. That’s a significant problem. There’s a second problem, however, that I find even more worrisome. Not only is he failing to represent Wisconsin citizens with whom he disagrees but he’s failing to represent even those who voted for him.

    Walker’s agenda wasn’t made in Wisconsin.

  6. Is the fact that a union bargaining with representatives to whom the union has donated thousands of dollars for those representatives re-election fair to the taxpayers of this state? Does the fact that those same unions demand and get the concession that the union member use only insurance companies that are owned and controlled by those same unions at far higher costs to the taxpayers also seem fair to you? Those unions and politicians have been reaching into your back pocket for years and you still drink their kool aid.
    I guess I will never understand why people will stand still for and even endorse this type of corruption. Unions, especially public employee unions, over the years have become as corrupt if not more so than the Democrats that used to run this state. That’s right the ones who imposed such onerous regulations on businesses that they, justifiably, head to other parts of the country where they are more welcome. It seems to me that the lawmakers in this state are so wrapped up in their socialism and environmentalism that they are willing to let jobs go elsewhere to maintain their ideal of utopia. “Let them eat cake” seems to be their motto.
    People have become so fed up with this state of affairs and the fact that those we sent to represent us have become our rulers, that they came together to form a loose organization called the Tea Party. These people, whether you realize it or not, are working on your behalf. They are saying that we all have rights and the governments, from local all the way up to national, are abrogating those rights. You think you have the right to paint your house any color you desire? Not in this state. If you live close to the Wisconsin River the DNR will tell you what colors you can select. Someone sitting behind a desk somewhere in that bureau made that rule and now you have to live under it whether you like it or not. Seem fair to you? How about your right to the money you earn? You don’t have that right either. The government will take, at the point of a gun if necessary, what they think they need and want. We all have the obligation to sustain the infrastructure and common defense of this country but do we really have the obligation to support someone who has made the decision to use drugs or to avoid working? Whether you know it or not you, if you live in this state, are supporting those people and encouraging those types of behavior if you pay your taxes. The rate of unemployment paid these days ensures, almost guarantees, that unemployment will be and stay high. Why work when you get paid not to?
    I encourage you and all those of your mind set to live as frugally as you can and use the rest of the money you earn to sustain those who you think deserve access to your largesse. As far as I am concerned I would rather be left alone to earn as much as I can to support my family. My family’s comfort is a bit more important to me than is the comfort of a drug addicted lay about. I do give a percentage of my income to charity, but it is the charity I select. I don’t need, nor do I like, the government taking my money and giving it to who they desire. I think anyone in their right mind would agree with me. If not, you deserve the government that has developed in this state since La Follette’s time.

    • You sure are worried about them Unions, fella.

      I can tell that you either didn’t read this essay, or didn’t get any meaning out of it, because your response is some kind of knee-jerk reaction filled with empty right-wing radio talking points. Unions…grar…DNR…grararar…lazy drug-addicts…grar…socialism…grar…unions, unions, unions…grar grar grar.

      I…wow. I got nothin’. I thought about it, I really tried. But you’ve contracted a real bad case of Foxaganda, and I believe you’re too far gone to be cured. Maybe you should step away from the computer and be with your family, go outside, breathe some fresh air while it’s still clean to breathe. Coming from a Tea Party mindset like you are you’re not going to change any minds here, and it’s pretty obvious we won’t change yours anytime soon.

      If by chance you do come to your senses once when your Republican ‘heroes’ finally come to take what little you have left, come on back here…we’ll still have a place for you. Hopefully by then it’s not too late to change things…

  7. Amen – jim! Praise the lord and pass the ammunition, that was well said. I’d rather live with the GOP giving breaks to corporations who create jobs in our state than the other side giving concessions to unions who hold back the truly excellent and prop up the underachievers.
    What is more frightening to a public union member, paying a few extra bucks for your benefits or being paid based on merit instead of seniority?
    What is so bad about a balanced budget without higher taxes and without state mandated furloughs for state workers? How about the dozens of school districts and municipalities who were able to balance their budgets and save money due to the reforms? Am I saying that these reforms are a solution that will hold up over time, no, because it is too soon to evaluate – bu how can any of you say that our state is worse off financially now than it was under Doyle a few years back?? Why do you think he didn’t run for re-election? He knew the crap was about to hit the fan budget wise…

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